The Sakha Republic (Yakutia) is located in northeastern Siberia, in deepest Russia. Millions of years ago, this land was covered by the warm waters of a tropical ocean, and was swimming with trilobites and plesiosaurs. Later, herds of mammoths and woolly rhinoceros came to beat trails across its vast plains. All we have left of those times today are the fossilized remains often found in the permafrost—the colossal layer of ice and soil beneath the surface of the ground which reaches, in places, a depth of 5,000 feet.
This was the land our people settled in many centuries ago - the Sakha people, or, in Russian, the Yakuts. According to research, our ancestors came from one of the Turkic steppe groups who had settled on the east shore of Lake Baikal by the early Middle Ages. They were later forced to migrate north, mostly to escape hostile Mongolian tribes; their choice must have been to either head north or to lose their lives and liberties. Why else would horsemen from the southern steppes move to a land where the winter lasts eight months of the year and the temperatures drop below -60˚C (-80˚F)? This is the coldest inhabited place in the world. It's difficult to survive in these conditions, but our ancestors managed it. Perhaps it is this harsh landscape that gave rise to some of the distinguishing qualities of the Sakha people: ingenuity, perseverance, trading skills, and excellence in science and in the visual arts.